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the closest range.    Some were found with their hands tied behind their
backs.55*
In the sixteenth century, an Englishman, Giles Fletcher, f had written,
after his visit to Moscow: " But for the most part the prisoners con-
demned in the summer are kept for the winter, to be knocked on the head
and put under the ice." That was in the sixteenth century, and now
the Germans were accusing the Russians of a similar murder in the Katyn
forest, and they in their turn were accusing the Germans.
The Polish Government sought the truth. They wdid not attempt to
sum up without a thorough investigation, they had no wish to assume
any hasty verdict. Evidence from every possible quarter was diligently
sifted. And if those investigations eventually led the Polish Government
to the conclusion that it had not been the Germans who had perpetrated
the crime, ought they to have stated this publicly ? . . . And what of
the repercussions of such a statement ? What then of keeping the front
of United Nations ? cc Was the war to be lost over these 10,000 officers
who had been murdered ? " demanded one leader of the United Nations
of the Polish Premier. The former Minister of Information, Stronski,
expressing the feelings of the Poles on April 22, wrote in London's
Dziennik Polski (Polish Daily) :
" One thing is certain. In that mass grave near Smolensk are lying the
murdered Polish officers. There are perhaps eight thousand or ten
thousand, or more, in that place, but of what avail is the difference in these
figures. The fact remains that, lying there are people murdered in an
appalling manner. Defenceless and unarmed men !
tfc Who has committed this murder ? The Germans are accusing the
Russians. The Russians are accusing the Germans.
cc ^e poies> foy a supreme effort of will-power, are trying to refrain from
proclaiming a premature verdict . , . We are setting aside the persistent
question, why, when we were asking "where are these men ?** did not the
Soviets answer plainly:ec We left them in construction works near Smolensk
and they have fallen into German hands" ? This answer was so simple,
and Germany's guilt would then perforce have been established.
cc We are trying to bear in mind all the German crimes, and the ability
of the Germans to commit any type of crime, and therefore this murder as
well. We are awaiting conclusive evidence and we repeat to the world:
c we know nothing.* But we do know that what has happened is a crime
the like of which has seldom been recorded in history. The last time a
crime such as this was perpetrated, was in Kiev and Odessa, where several
thousand defenceless officers had been murdered during the Civil War.
*c On this occasion it was at the end of a campaign and the Polish officers
were prisoners-of-war. They represented no threat to anyone. They were
* Time* February 7tha 1944 :
When the correspondents were permitted to put questions, one asked why, if
the slaughter had been in August or September, many of the corpses wore fur-lined
coats ?
t Hetcher, J., On the Russian Commonwealth^ London, 1591, p. 52,
123